Graveyard Epithets and Epitaphs

died-funny-tombstoneI look in many places for inspiration and save all sorts of interesting and odd things that I look at every now and then when I need to motivate my muse. I don’t know where I found this. I have a bad habit of finding things on the Internet and saving them, but not adding a citation so I’ll know where it came from if I ever decide to use it for something other than my amusement of inspiration. I used to live a block away from one of the cemeteries in Wausau, WI. It was a great place to walk the dog, but it was a little spooky at night, especially on a cloudy, drizzly night near the back where there wasn’t much light. I think the spookiness came, not from the cemetery residents but from all the cemetery stories I saw, read and heard when I was growing up. Here are some fascinating inscriptions found on old tombstones:

  • Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York: Born 1903–Died 1942. Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.
  • On a gravestone in a Georgetown, Washington, D.C. area cemetery Katharine Phelps Brown Ivison 11/25/17 – 6/12/97 Sterling HolliFunnee Gravestonenshead Ivison, Jr. 6/26/19 – 8/16/08 We finally found a place to park in Georgetown.
  • In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery: Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up and no place to go.
  • In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery: Anna Wallace The children of Israel wanted bread, And the Lord sent them manna. Clark Wallace wanted a wife, And the Devil sent him Anna.
  • On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia: Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102. Only the good die young.
  • In a London, England cemetery: Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid but died an old Mann. Dec. 8, 1767
  • John Penny’s epitaph in the Wimborne, England, cemetery: Reader if cash thou art In want of any Dig 4 feet deep And thou wilt find a Penny.
  • In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, cemetery: Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake, Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.
  • In a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery: Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon him for not rising.
  • On Margaret Daniels grave at Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her.
  • In a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery: Here lays The Kid, We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger, But slow on the draw.
  • A lawyer’s epitaph in England: Sir John Strange. Here lies an honest lawyer, and that is Strange.
  • In a cemetery in Hartscombe, England: On the 22nd of June, Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune.
  • Anna Hopewell’ s grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont: Here lies the body of our Anna, Done to death by a banana. It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low, But the skin of the thing that made her go.
  • tombstone-backOn a grave from the 1880s in Nantucket, Massachusetts: Under the sod and under the trees, Lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there’s only the pod, Pease shelled out and went to God.
  • The grave of Ellen Shannon in Girard, Pennsylvania is almost a consumer tip: Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870 by the explosion of a lamp filled with “R.E. Danforth’s Non-Explosive Burning Fluid”
  • In a cemetery in England: Remember man, as you walk by, As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so shall you be, Remember this and follow me. To which someone replied by writing on the tombstone: To follow you I’ll not consent Until I know which way you went.

Most celebrity gravestones are well known, but this is my favorite, Winston Churchill (1874-1965): I am ready to meet my Maker, Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter!

The Witch and the Ice Cream

This is an exercise where I take the first line or two of a book and start writing. The goal is to  write a complete story or scene. Another rule is that I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea where the beginning of the book is going. Additionally, I try to limit the story to 1,000 words.

ice-cream-6The witch had a cat and a hat that was black, and long ginger hair in a braid down her back.**

Everything about her said, ‘Witch,” except for the three kids tagging along behind her. I knew one of them. He was Jacob, a kid in my class.

“Hey, Jacob!” I shouted as they walked by.

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything, didn’t even act like he knew who I was. That made me wonder if maybe she was a witch and she did something to them and she was taking them home to cook them. That’s what witches do to kids you know. If the kid’s lucky, the witch will make them a slave and make them wash dirty witch stuff. Usually, the kid isn’t lucky and gets stuffed in a big oven, the size of a pizza oven, only the witch isn’t making pizza.

I thought maybe I should follow them. After all, if she was going to eat them, she had to have a house someplace. Maybe I could follow and see where she went. Then I could call the police. I didn’t want to follow too close, though. Last thing I wanted was to be part of a witch sandwich.

They went down a block and turned the corner. By the time I got there, they were gone.

She must have seen me following and made them disappear, I thought. I hurried down the street thinking maybe there was an alley, but as I was passing an ice-cream shop, I saw them all inside. She was handing each of them an ice-cream cone. Oh no, just like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, she was fattening them up. When they came out of the store, I said, “Hi Jacob.”

He mumbled, “Hi.” as he licked his ice-cream.

“Are you one of Jacob’s friends?” the witch asked. I couldn’t tell if she sounded like a witch, but I think she did.

I nodded, yes.

‘Would you like some ice-cream, too?” she said, and I think she cackled.

“No, thank you very much,” I said as I turned and ran. Maybe Jacob was going to stand there and let an old witch fatten him up, but I wasn’t. I didn’t stop until I was in my yard in front of my house.

** From the first line of “Room on the Broom” by Julia Donaldson

Why Read Books When You Can Listen to Music?

bob-dylanIt was quite a surprise when I heard that Bob Dylan was the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. I have long been a fan of Bob Dylan, have usually enjoyed his songs, his lyrics, and even to some degree his voice. However, with the abundance of writers, novelists playwrights, and poets in existence today it was curious the award would have been given to a troubadour. That would have made some sense 600 years ago when troubadours sang the tales of the times before Gutenberg invented the printing press.

Giving the Literature prize to a songwriter would be like giving the Economics prize to Donald Trump.

It seems there are so many, so many other possible choices such as Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami; American writer, Margaret Atwood; British novelist, Neil Gaiman; Syrian Poet, Adonis; Irish Novelist, John Banville; or Italian novelist, Umberto Eco to name just a few.

Off hand, I wouldn’t think Bob Dylan’s lyrics would be considered literature. However, quite a few years ago I took a class titled Twentieth Century American Literature. Dylans song, “The Times They Are a Changing” was one of about ten works we discussed in the class.

My question now is, who’s next – Eminem, Kanye West, Blackalicious, or maybe The Notorious B.I.G?

This article argues that the reason Dylan won was because people don’t care much about books anymore: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature is proof that no one cares about books — Quartz

Read a Book to a Barber and It’s Worth a Couple Bucks (if your’re a kid)

A great way for kids to brush up on reading skills? Why, reading to the barber, of course. That’s the idea at one barbershop in Ypsilanti, Mich. Oh, and in Houston, Dubuque, Iowa, and Columbus, Ohio.

This is a wonderful idea. A child picks out a book, reads it to the barber while getting his hair cut and the barber knocks $2 off the regular price for kids haircuts. That in itself is a good reason to choose one barbershop over another, but some shops make it even better. Some quiz the child about the book, just to be sure the child both read and understood what was read. Others charge the full price for the haircut but give the $2 back to the child.

I hated getting my hair cut when I was a child, still do in fact. It was boring sitting in the chair while an old man poked around on my head when I could have been outside playing ball somewhere. The worst part was that I always wanted a bath or shower afterward because of the itch. Even though the barber wrapped me in a big cloth and wrapped something around my neck little bits of hair still found their way under my shirt and into my pants.

Back then if I knew I was going to get $2 when the barber was finished I’d probably have been begging my dad for a haircut every week. I might also have figured out how to read when I was in first grade, rather than waiting until I was in third (but that’s another story.

Source: Choose A Book And Read To Your Barber, He’ll Take A Little Money Off The Top : NPR Ed : NPR

Memoir: Roller Skating

I love to watch Gene Kelly dance. He’s so smooth, so confident on his feet. When I saw this video I was totally amazed, especially considering my own experiences on roller skates. How could anybody tap dance (at the 2:18 mark) on four little wheels?

My father met my mother at a roller rink, so I was excited about a date with Beth, a girl I’d just met. She and I were talking and she asked if I liked to roller skate.

“I’ve been on roller skates just once in my life when I was about twelve. Fell off them, slammed my shoulder into the sidewalk. Hurt so bad I never dared get on them again.”

“Too bad,” she said puckering her lips in a way that seemed to say she was sorry I got hurt, but that I wasn’t the kind of guy she could be interested in.

“I take it you skate a lot.”

“A couple times every week, maybe more.”

“Do you think maybe you could teach me to skate?”

“That would be fun,” she said and the smile on my face told me it was worth the taking a chance

“Maybe tomorrow?” I asked.

“About six,” she said nodding her head. “We could get something to eat, then I’ll teach you how to skate.”

I thought because we were going to go roller skating for our first date it had to be a sign from the universe that this girl was the one I’d been waiting for. I thought I was in love.

When I picked her up the next day I thought she looked more beautiful than she ever had before. Of course, I’d think that. Doesn’t every guy who thinks he’s in love think the girl is always more beautiful than she was the day before?

Since it was a Saturday night, the restaurant was crowded and the skating rink was crowded. At least the food was good and we talked. I think we could have spent the rest of our date at the restaurant, but she loved to skate and wanted me to like it, too. If I’d known what was going to happen, I’d have tried to talk her into having a desert and use that to keep us away from the skating rink.

When we got there I was immediately intimidated because there were so many people there, going around and around, obviously knowing what they  were doing. Most of them were skating in a counter-clockwise circle. Some were skating backwards. Some were doing spins and twirls. Others seemed to be dancing to the music. I thought if I was lucky I might be dancing with Beth before the night was over. As I laced up my rented skates I thought I might see someone who looked like he didn’t know what he was doing. I didn’t want to be the only one. A few people wobbled here and there and some looked a little unsure of themselves, but no one looked like they were in the midst of a disaster. I would soon to be the only one.

I carefully shuffled out onto the rink, holding onto anything that seemed to be solid – mostly the benches and walls. Beth held my arm and guided me toward the middle of the rink. I don’t think I’d been out there more than twenty seconds before my skates moved faster than I did and I crashed. Beth helped me up and I fell again and again and again. Every time I managed to shuffle a few feet she tried to encourage me by telling me I was doing really well.

After I fell for the eighth or ninth time she said, “Wait here.” as she skated away she turned back toward me and said, “I’ll be right back,”

The ice was old. My hands and knees were wet and I was starting to shiver. I decided I was going to get up on my feet and try to move a little on my own. I thought she’d be very proud of me if she returned to find me back on my feet. That as my plan. I probably fell another half dozen times before I managed to get back on my feet. I stood there with both hands on my knees.

Maybe I was up about ten seconds before I thought I might try to move. It was a good thought, but I never got a chance to act on it because someone slammed into me, knocking me to the ground. I was face down on the ice. Someone was standing over me, laughing. “Here let me help you,” the laughing voice said. Someone grabbed my arm and started pulling me up. I could see it was a boy, about eleven or twelve.

“Thank you,” I said, but just as I managed to get one foot under me he shoved me, spinning me away. Again I was on my face. Again he was laughing. I tried to get up again, maneuvering myself into a half sitting, half lying down position when he skated around me and shoved me again.

That was it. I was finished. It was bad enough not being able to stay on my feet, but I was not going to be embarrassed by a ten-year-old kid. As I crawled toward the wall he pushed me again. Then skated off. I think he saw Beth returning. She was carrying some kind of support thing.

“Here,” she said, “This should help.”

“Thanks, but I’m done. I’m not going to skate anymore. I’ll just sit there and watch,” I said pointing to the small cafeteria I was slide crawling toward.

I told her about the kid. She wanted me to point him out so she could ask the management to tell him to leave, but I’d never gotten a look at much more than his feet and in roller skates, they all looked about alike. She thought it might be good for me to rest a little before I tried again. I rested, but I never tried again. It was embarrassing enough to be falling every minute or so, but to have a ten-year-old kid relish in my embarrassment was too much for me.

Beth and I dated for almost a year and she still skated a couple times every week. Sometimes I watched. She was really quite good, but I never put roller skates on my feet again. That’s probably too bad. I like to dance. Maybe I could have gotten good enough to tap dance, a little.

Did Someone Put 100 Monkeys in a Room?

wondering-monkeyI saw this story on Yahoo this morning and I had to watch the video in order to understand the story. I thought this was written by a foreigner. Periods are misplaced. Sentences are incomplete. Commas don’t exist where commas should be. What does this mean: “Ten Stastny that the game Sunday the Ravens are trying…”? What is a “Meehan showing?”And what is this: “And each of the Fayette that the news that their teens are going to be that this year’s I think there’s a lot invested in and so. We almost into an.”?

Was the writer drunk? Was the writer tired or lazy and rather than write an intro to the video, just turned in his/her notes to be used as an intro? Whatever happened, ABC and/or Yahoo should be ashamed of

Whatever happened, ABC and/or Yahoo should be ashamed, because this falls far short of the quality standards expected of them.

Maryland Man Clinging to Life After Altercation at Baltimore Ravens Game

October 3, 2016

Ten Stastny that the game Sunday the ravens trying to keep their winning streak alive hosted the oak. Raiders’ Al West Coast team that had an usually high Meehan showing. It was a typical. Rivalry tight game when you have a lot of fans well represented it. And each of the Fayette that the news that their teens are going to be that this year’s I think there’s a lot invested in and so. We almost into an. The city of third some fun banter but nothing like what police described after interviewing witnesses of a fight between opposing fans in the stadium. At about 330 also were alerted by fans there was an in progress fight when programs. When officers got there they found 56 year old victim whose

Source: Video: Maryland Man Clinging to Life After Altercation at Baltimore Ravens Game

Bloopers: Radio and Others

This blooper video brought back memories of terror, embarrassment, and laughter. Having worked off and on for more than 20 years in broadcasting, mostly as a radio announcer and newsperson, I’m well aware of how embarrassingly funny a blooper can be, especially when an audience gets to enjoy them.

Watching this you might wonder how these people could possibly mess up a simple six-word phrase not once, but about a dozen times. What, are these people idiots? Nope… but this sort of thing even happens to professionals, that’s why we enjoy blooper outtakes so much. It happens because when a person is not talking in a way they would normally be talking or because they are concerned about something other than the words they are saying, such as the way they look, the way they are pronouncing the word, or the way they are saying a word or phrase.

I lost my first radio announcing job (at WBYS in Canton, IL) because of a blooper, not mine, even though I did make a few that could have gotten me fired had they either been recorded or heard by anyone in management. I mispronounced names or people, places, and things. I stumbled over various words and phrases. Once I thought I’d turned off my mike, but hadn’t and treated the audience to my side of a phone conversation while a record was playing. A couple times I said s**t on the air. Another time, knowing my microphone was off, but not realizing the phone line was not, I called a listener an a**h**e on the air. Perhaps the worst was when I misread the word duck.

 

tape-cartridges-radio
Magnetic Tape Cartridges (Carts)

At that time commercials were recorded on tape cartridges similar plastic 8-track tape cartridges that in radio jargon were called, Carts. We put a Cart into a recorder, read or produced our commercial, and put a label on the Cart to identify it. If we made a mistake we removed the Cart from the recorder, put in a new one and started over. We continued this process until we had a broadcast worthy commercial.

 

One of my jobs was to erase the Carts. In the production room, the small studio where commercials, promos, and other pre-recorded announcements were made, there were three cardboard boxes where all the mistakes were dumped. I had to run each cart over a magnetic eraser and put the Carts back in the rack according to size ( 30, 60, or 90 second or 2, 3, 5, 10, or 30 minutes long). It was a boring, tedious job.

 

radio-cartridge-bulk-eraser
Magnetic Tape Bulk Eraser

One day, after I’d been doing it for a few months I noticed that one of the newsmen had ‘dirtied’ more than 50 Carts. I thought it would be funny if I acknowledged his accomplishment, so I printed a small banner announcing the winner of the “Who Dirtied the Most Carts Contest.” Everyone thought it was funny, including the newsman so I decided to continue it, even giving myself the award a couple times. Giving the award made the task of cleaning the Carts even more tedious because it added a couple steps to the process. Instead of just removing the label, erasing the cart, and putting the cleaned cart back into one of the racks I now had to first listen to the Cart, then put a tick mark next to the culprit’s name before I erased it.

 

When I was fired a couple months after starting the “Who Dirtied the Most Carts” contest, I was told I had not been getting the job done. Two for instances were given: I rarely wrote more than three news stories and usually, only two every night, whereas the person who’d been doing the job previously always turned in at least three. Second, I spent about twice as much time as my predecessor cleaning the Carts. Both accusations were true. In my defense, I was a one-finger typist, and I was too young to know that my joke was funny once or twice, but not every day.

The truth is the real reason I was fired was not because I didn’t write enough news or because I spent too much time completing a monotonous task, but because three days before I was fired I gave the award to the radio station owner. Maybe that was a mistake. Apparently, he didn’t have as much of a sense of humor as I thought he did.